Says merit’s definition can’t be reduced to performance in competitive exams
New Delhi, Jan. 20 (Delhi Crown): Citing reasons for allowing NEET-PG admissions earlier this month on the basis of existing quota rules, the Supreme Court on Thursday said that merit’s definition cannot be reduced to performance in competitive examinations.
The apex court said that high scores (in NEET Exams) were not the sole criteria for merit.
“Merit must be contextualised with respect to social and economic background. Role of reservation cannot be negated in remedying backwardness. Reservation is not at odds with merit but furthers the distributive consequences of social justice,” a bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and A.S. Bopanna said.
The court also pronounced that there will be no stay on the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) criteria for admission to NEET-PG and the existing criteria (Rs 8 lakh gross annual income cut-off) will apply to the current admission year.
Citing Article 15(4) and 15(5), which call for “substantive equality”, the top court said, “Competitive exams don’t reflect excellence, capabilities of individuals. They do not reflect the social economic and cultural advantage that accrues to some classes.”
The bench also clarified that since reservation and number of seats were not disclosed till after the examination was held, it cannot be said that goalposts of seats have been changed.
The issue of the validity of EWS reservation and eligibility status will be heard by the top court in third week of March.
In an interim order issued on January 7, the Supreme Court had allowed resumption of medical counselling for NEET-PG admissions for the year 2021-22. It also upheld the validity of 27 per cent OBC and 10 per cent EWS quotas.
The order pertained to a petition challenging reservation for OBC and EWS introduced by the central government in the All India Quota (AIQ) seats in state government medical institutions.
In its detailed verdict today, the bench said the scheme of AIQ was devised to allot seats in state-run medical institutions.